If the stars align, Ontario residents may be able to see a spectacular celestial show early Tuesday morning – an event that astronomers call a “meteor storm.”
CTV News Science and Technology Specialist Dan Riskin said astronomers are predicting that at around 1 a.m. on Tuesday, people may witness either this rare event, or possibly see nothing significant at all.
Astronomers say they are predicting that earth will pass through debris trails on Monday nightthat were left from a broken comet, which shattered in 1995.
The broken comet, called Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 [SW3], was first discovered in 1930. The comet was faint for most of its years until its breakage in 1995 when it became 600 times brighter.
“If the pieces are the right size, and if the pieces are moving at the right speed, which we don’t really know, but it’s possible, we could get something beyond a meteor shower,” Riskin said Monday afternoon.
“We could get what’s called a meteor storm with thousands of meteors per hour, and this would peak around 1 a.m. Toronto time.”
In comparison, scientists say a regular meteor shower averages one meteor every minute, roughly 60 an hour. The significance of the event, however, depends heavily on the speed and direction of the fragments.
“If you feel like getting up in the middle of the night, head outside around 1 a.m., try to get somewhere without some light pollution and look at the sky,” Riskin said.
“It’ll be a fabulous show or it will be absolutely nothing, and nobody knows.”